NRC makes Vt Yankee decision but not on the renewal

NEW YORK, Oct 28 (BestGrowthStock) – A judicial panel at the U.S.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission handling the Vermont Yankee
license renewal proceeding denied a new contention submitted by
a group opposed to the nuclear reactor’s continued operation,
the NRC said in an email on Thursday.

The New England Coalition filed the contention asserting
Entergy Corp (ETR.N: ), the reactor owner, did not have an
adequate aging management program in place to deal with the
effects of moist or wet environments on underground cables.

Underground equipment is a big deal at Vermont Yankee.

Earlier this year, Entergy discovered radioactive tritium
leaking from an underground pipe at the reactor. The company
stopped the leak but not before Vermont Senate voted
overwhelmingly against the renewal of the license.

Unless the license is renewed, the plant is to shut in
2012.

Tritium is a mildly radioactive isotope of hydrogen that
occurs naturally in very small amounts in ground water. It is
also a byproduct of power production in nuclear plants.

The three-judge Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB),
the NRC’s judicial panel, said Thursday it denied the
contention in part because it was not timely since the
underground cables were known about for years and did not
address a “significant” safety or environmental issue since the
renewal application already contained an aging management
program for the cables.

With the ruling, the ASLB concluded its proceeding on
Vermont Yankee but said the New England Coalition had 15 days
to appeal the decision to the five-member presidentially
appointed Commission that oversees the NRC.

ENTERGY HOPES FOR A NEW STATE LEGISLATURE

Entergy has said it hopes to convince a new state
legislature of the merits of renewing the reactor license when
it takes office in January 2011.

Several state politicians mentioned tritium as part of
their justification for voting against a 20-year renewal of
reactor license and allowing the plant to shut in 2012.

Deciding on license renewals is the responsibility of the
NRC, but Vermont is unique among the states in having the
ability to decide on a renewal – a right the state gained in
approving Entergy’s acquisition of the reactor.

Vermont Yankee entered service in 1972 with a 40-year
operating license.

Entergy filed with the NRC to renew the license for another
20 years in 2006 but is still waiting for the Commission to
make a decision.
———————————————————–
PLANT BACKGROUND/TIMELINE
STATE: Vermont
COUNTY: Windham
TOWN: Vernon
OPERATOR: Entergy Corp’s Entergy Nuclear
OWNER(S): Entergy Corp
CAPACITY: 620 MW
UNIT(S): General Electric Boiling Water Reactor
FUEL: Nuclear
DISPATCH: Baseload
COST: $183 million
TIMELINE:
1972 – Reactor enters commercial service
2002 – Entergy buys reactor for $180 million from Vermont

Yankee Nuclear Power and entered a 10-year power

purchase agreement to sell power back to the former

owners for about 4.5 cents per kilowatt hour
Jan 2006 – Entergy files with NRC to renew the original 40

year operating license for an additional 20 years
Sep 2006 – Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) admits

five contentions on application from New England

Coalition (NEC) and Vermont Department of Public

Service
Nov 2008 – ASLB rules in Entergy’s favor on four contentions

but says Entergy’s metal fatigue analyses for two

reactor vessel nozzles do not comply with all

requirements
Mar 2009 – Entergy submits revised metal fatigue analysis for

nozzles
Apr 2009 – NEC challenges Entergy’s metal fatigue analysis and

proposes new contention
Jul 2009 – ASLB accepts Entergy’s metal fatigue analysis,

rejects NEC contention as not timely
Jul 2009 – NEC appeals ASLB decision on metal fatigue to the

Commission
Jan 2010 – Entergy identifies tritium leak
Feb 2010 – Vermont Senate votes 26-4 against authorizing the

Vermont Public Service Board to issue a certificate

of public good that would allow for the license

renewal. Vermont is the only state in the nation

with the authority to block a license renewal.

Entergy officials have said the state gained that

authority when Entergy bought the plant
Mar 2010 – Entergy stops tritium leak
Jul 2010 – Commission rules ASLB should have ruled in

Entergy’s favor on original metal fatigue

calculations and remands to ASLB to give NEC

opportunity to submit a revised contention

challenging the aging management program for metal

fatigue
Aug 2010 – NEC submits contention having to do with aging

management program for electric cables
Oct 2010 – ASLB denies NEC contention on aging management

program for electric cables as not timely
2010-12 – – Entergy must decide soon to buy fuel for the

reactor for the next refueling

– NRC Commission still needs to decide on an appeal

from the NRC staff on a ruling in Entergy’s favor

by the ASLB that Entergy must inspect the reactor

nozzles. The staff did not think it was appropriate

for the ASLB to order the company to conduct the

inspection immediately rather than at some time

before renewing the license. After deciding that

appeal, which electricity traders do not consider

important since Entergy has already conducted the

ASLB requested inspections, and any other appeals,

the Commission can approve of the renewal. The

Commission however is not bound by any timeline in

making a decision
Jan 2011 – Entergy will get another chance to convince state

legislators to approve of a new license once the

new session starts
Mar 2012 – Reactor operating license expires and unit to

retire unless license renewed. The reactor however

can continue to operate so long as the renewal

process is ongoing
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino;editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)

NRC makes Vt Yankee decision but not on the renewal